Saturday, 10 May 2014


Fantasy Bob's dwindling band of worldwide readers may think he has a heart of stone. That his finer sensitivities have long been ground out of him by enforced bowling spells up the hill against the wind.   They might think that he would be unmoved by the sentimental or the tragic. That a lump would rarely, if ever, form in his throat. Far less a tear drop slowly from his eye.

However there are certain things that reduce this lump of roughly hewn granite to a misty eyed sniveller.

'Oh no', long suffering readers will think at this point, 'How predictable can FB get?  He's going to go off on one about the iniquities of having to face leg spin bowling  - an exhibition which certainly reduces watchers to tears. Tears of laughter.'

FB steels himself against such unkindness.  His mind is on higher things.

He has commented previously on the inability of Giacomo Puccini to deal seriously with cricketing issues in his operas.  A failing to which he will return shortly.

But Puccini has a knack of getting the lump to rise in FB's throat like few others.  Tragic heroine after tragic heroine is betrayed, traduced, deserted, destroyed.

Tosca may be a 3 handkerchief job, La Boheme a modest 4, but these are limited over events compared to the full Kleenex box required to get through the Test Match that is Madama Butterfly, a performance of which FB and Mrs FB attended this week as Scottish Opera revived for the umpteenth time its fine 2001
Scottish Opera flyer

In Butterfly the tragic starts early - ten minutes or so into the piece in fact as Butterfly makes her first entrance.  Although her words say that this is the happiest day of her life, as she approaches the hill top house where she will be married to Lt B F Pinkerton of the US Navy, the music under her soaring voice tells a different story.    (Music that might well accompany FB as he makes his way to the crease).  It marks her out as doomed.

'Don't do it, dear,'  FB wants to shout out.  'Go back.  Pinkerton is not a cricketer.'

For no member of the Pinkerton family is recorded as having played cricket at the highest level.  A clear indication that he cannot be trusted.

Only Mrs FB's snivel as she dries her eyes restrains him.  FB remembers the first time they saw this work, FB whispered this intelligence to Mrs FB at this point.  He thought it would help her understand the depth of the events unfolding. A steely glare was all he got in return.

Poor Cio-Cio San had no access to Wisden and so could not check the cricketing pedigree of her intended. Her fate is sealed.  All this is in the music.  And that is only the start - Puccini just piles it on from then on.

One fine day indeed.

Links above are to excerpts from this outstanding production at the Metropolitan Opera NY which FB and Mrs FB attended in 2008.  Wisden was not made available to the audience.


  1. Unlike FB I am a recent convert to Puccini operas, having been comprehensibly bowled by Amarilli Nizza's standout performance in the title role of Madame Butterfly at the Teatro la Fenice in Venice last week. Had Cio-Cio San consulted Wisden before embarking on her ill-fated matrimonial innings, she might have realised that, whereas she was in it for the full five days, her beau Pinkerton was very much a 20-20 man. As England supporters have long been aware, such a situation rarely ends well.